Matera

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The Rock-Hewn Churches - The Tufa quarries The particular characteristic of the land, its morphology and that of the Murgia Plateau of Matera, between the 8th and the 13th centuries encouraged the development of an intense monastic movement that found the ancient cave-dwellings as the ideal habitat for monasteries and rock-hewn churches that reproduced the original pattern of those existing in their own countries. Throughout the countryside of Matera there are more than 130 rock-hewn churches, some of them are only underground churches, whereas the others are carved into the rock integrating with the outside construction that witness the presence of Latin and Greek/Byzantine monastic cultures in Matera, their meeting point throughout the centuries. Most of these underground churches still contain frescoes of great artistic value (The Crypt of the Original Sin, The Churches of: Madonna della Croce - Santa Lucia alle Malve - San Nicola dei Greci - Santa Maria della Valle - Santa Barbara etc.) Leaving from S. Maria della Valle and following the national road "SS 7 Appia" driving towards Laterza, on the right-hand side, it is possible to see unique kinds of big tufa quarries attesting to the hard work of the ancient quarrymen who extracted the tufa stone, the raw material used for the construction of the new part of the town on the "piano".

The Cathedral - Dating back to 1270, this imposing monument, built in Romanesque-Apulian architecture, overlooks the ancient quarters of the "Sassi", as well as the medieval and the modern part of the town. The outside construction is very harmonious and simple in its elegant architecture; the facade has a big rose-window representing the "wheel of life" and on the right-hand side there are two portals which are sumptuously decorated. The interior has one nave and two aisles and it contains the 13th-century fresco of the Madonna della Bruna along with a beautiful wooden choir dating to 1453 and the Stone Nativity sculptured by Altobello Persia in 1534.

The realization of these pages was possible thanks to the contribution of the APT Basilicata